Speaker: Mr. Glenn Payot
Mr. President, Mr. High Commissioner
While Minority Rights Group (MRG) acknowledges progressive steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) over the past 18 months, as noted in the report, progress towards meeting the commitments of the resolution has been ‘worryingly slow’. In addition to pace of reform, recent developments have also raised questions regarding its direction.
The Government’s recent distancing from the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTF) report, coupled with absence of transparency or public campaigning, has provoked growing lack of confidence in the government’s commitment to transitional justice. This has been exacerbated by continued surveillance, lack of progress towards addressing impunity, and ongoing human rights violations.
Recently, incidents against religious minorities, documented by MRG and its partners, have highlighted unpunished cases of hate speech against Muslims, while the majority of violations targeting Christians have included some level of state complicity. The continued operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act contributes to broader injustice, particularly in the North and East of the country, given its legacy of disproportionately impacting minorities, such as Tamils.
While the contributions of minority Tamil and Muslim women in the still heavily militarized North and East of Sri Lanka have been integral to recent consultation processes, a number of cases of sexual and gender-based violence against them have been reported, including at the hands of authorities. Meanwhile, progress towards addressing land return and resettlement issues remains slow or unaddressed, including for Muslims in Northern Province, displaced from their land over 20 years ago.
Mr. President, while MRG appreciates the challenges involved with undertaking such a reform process, it is crucial that further steps be taken immediately by the GoSL to build confidence and ensure the potential of this historic opportunity is not lost.
- We therefore call upon the GoSL to incorporate the findings and recommendation of the CTF in developing a comprehensive and inclusive strategy on transitional justice, which prioritizes reaching those most marginalized through ongoing consultation;
- We similarly emphasise the importance of the government implementing recent recommendations from the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, the CERD, CEDAW, and other UN bodies;
- MRG stresses that it is crucial that a clear, and closely monitored timeline is developed for implementation of the remaining commitments of the resolution to secure confidence, particularly amongst war-affected communities;
- And finally, we emphasise that redoubled government efforts to address impunity and ongoing human rights violations, as well as long-standing minority rights violations are integral to securing transitional justice and reform.
I thank you.